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Augusta minister creates church donation app

Posted: December 19, 2011 - 11:58am  |  Updated: December 19, 2011 - 12:07pm
Marty Baker, lead pastor at Stevens Creek Church, created a smartphone giving app for mobile phones.  Zach Boyden-Holmes
Zach Boyden-Holmes
Marty Baker, lead pastor at Stevens Creek Church, created a smartphone giving app for mobile phones.

Twitter @ColumbiaCounty

Forgot your checkbook at church? There’s an app for that.

A new smartphone application developed by Rev. Marty Baker of Stevens Creek Church in Martinez is gaining traction with churches across the country.

The app, called SecureGive Mobile after the company he and his wife, Patty, founded in Evans in 2005, is the first of its kind to be released in the Apple App Store.

The app allows parishioners to donate to their church from the convenience of their iPhone, iPad or Android phone.

“This is a tool that will help fund the church,” said Baker, the founding pastor of Stevens Creek, a Church of God congregation. “We believe people want to donate to the church. They want to donate to something they believe in. They might not have cash or a checkbook, but they have a phone.”

More than 75 churches across the country signed up for the app in the 10 days following its release.

“It’s already spreading farther than anything else we’ve done,” Baker said. “We feel like mobile is the next big wave.”

The idea is the latest development from SecureGive, the for-profit company the Bakers founded after developing their own giving kiosks for the lobby of Stevens Creek, which draws nearly 2,000 people on Sundays.

“My goal back then was figuring out how we could serve our congregation who doesn’t carry cash or a checkbook,” Baker said. “I looked everywhere for a solution for five months. It was to the point where I knew I’d have to be the one to do this.”

The Bakers founded SecureGive with the mission of using technology to help churches and nonprofits increase their funding. At first, that meant duplicating Stevens Creek’s computer-based kiosks in the lobbies of other churches. Next, SecureGive developed a platform for online giving.

Mobile, Baker said, was the next step in a natural progression.

“This whole thing with apps, it’s a big deal,” Baker said. “We wanted to be ahead of the curve. We look at digital giving as an evolution of the financial system. Tithing itself has evolved.”

Tithes were first given with animals and grains, then coins and cash, and later checks and debit cards, Baker said.

“It’s not the method that matters to God,” he said. “It’s the heart.”

The software was developed by Powerserve, a web development company on Broad Street in Augusta. The company worked for nearly a year to build an application that would be accepted by Apple.

“There are a lot of hoops you have to jump through to get an app published to the market,” said Mike Leaptrott, the information technology director for Powerserve.

The lengthy process resulted in a user-friendly app, both for churches and donors.

“It’s a really seamless experience for the user,” Leaptrott said.

Contributors can set up one-time or recurring donations, and designate their gift for specific causes. The app includes a giving calculator with inputs for income and how often a person would like to give.

On average, clients using SecureGive report a 20 percent increase in giving, Baker said. The average kiosk donation is $150. About 27 percent of donors are first-time givers.

The costs for churches vary. A monthly service fee is issued based on the size of the organization, and can range from $39 to $499 per month.

A processing fee is charged on donations. On a $1,000 donation, SecureGive charges $7.50 in processing fees, while the church or charity keeps $992.50, according to SecureGive.

The mobile app has already been adopted by a few local churches, including First Baptist Church of North Augusta and The Quest United Methodist Church in Martinez.

Tech-savvy churches will find that mobile giving not only increases donations, but paves the way for new relationships, Baker said.

“We want to break down walls for people,” he said. “This app is a tool that will break down barriers. It tells people outside the church that this church gets it. We understand how you live.”

ABOUT SECUREGIVE

The Rev. Marty Baker and his wife, Patty, founded SecureGive in Evans in 2005 after launching giving kiosks in the lobby of their church, Stevens Creek. Hundreds of churches and nonprofits across the country now use SecureGive for electronic giving. Learn more at securegive.com.

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